Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kids' Bank Accounts

With grandparents living long distances from their grandkids, grandmas often mail checks for birthday presents and Valentine presents and Christmas presents, made out to the child. I can't remember what we used to do with those; I do remember having little kids scratch out their name to endorse checks. But what happens to kids who can't even begin to write their name?

It's hard to be the teller when someone comes in with a check made out to Someone Else. "But it's my kid's check. He's too little to sign his name." That may be, but when you come into the bank without the kid, and have no evidence for me that this isn't a check that belongs to your adult neighbor (think what happens when Mom kept her maiden name and Kid's name has no relation to Mom's), please be patient when the teller is hesitant to hand over cash to you.

Most banks offer great deals for kids to have savings accounts. They often waive the fees and the minimum balance. It's not that hard to get the kid his own bank account, with one of the parents as custodian or co-owner. That gives you a place to deposit those gift checks without putting the bank in a precarious situation, and you can even withdraw the funds after the check clears.


  1. We live in a small town and everyone knows that my husband is the pastor of a small church and everyone also knows that we have 3 boys. Of course I don't know half of the tellers names, but they know me! I never would have even thought of what you posted here. Of course now I am also used to depositing checks without signing them sometimes too. I'll have to tuck all this in the back of my brain for if we ever move to a larger city. I suppose I'll have to get used to showing ID to take out cash etc. too. I love our bank's savings account prizes for the boys. If we ever move from here I'll miss that.

  2. That's how it was for us where we used to live: small town, lots more people knew of us than I knew in return. Plus, we actually went into the bank. Gary didn't have direct deposit, so we had to actually cash and/or deposit checks written on paper! Add to all that that I was traipsing around in the middle of the day with a whole bunch of kids not-in-school, and the tellers got to know me real fast. There was no way anybody was going to mess with our accounts and checks at our local branch!

    I live in the big city, but our bank has prizes for the kids' savings accounts too. I love it when the kids come in!

  3. I live in the Chicago burbs (which I guess would qualify as big city) but we have been banking at the same place for 10 years so they recognize me readily, whether I drive through or go in. The regular day teller even noticed when we traded in our van! Our two older kids have their own accounts but not the youngest yet--should probably do that soon. But sometimes over the years for the sake of convenience I have deposted everyone's checks into our account and then electronically transferred them to the respective owner's account. The bank has never questioned it when I have deposited kids' checks into our account. One motivation for doing that is I have found that if we don't deposit them right away--if we wait until it's convenient to take individuals to the bank--checks seem to get lost. But I know we should make the time--actually going in to the bank themselves helps them to learn about the process. And actually, I can't bank for my oldest anymore anyway--he transferred all his money to another bank to take advantage of a great incentive they had for new accounts!

  4. I think most banks will let anybody deposit checks for a person into that person's account, even if you're not that person. It's when you want to take the money out that you better be proving you have the right to access those funds.

  5. You would think, Susan, but, 13 years ago, my grandmother held our mortgage. I would make our monthly payment by writing a check and depositing it in her bank account. (Actually, I was a signer on that account, but my name didn't appear on the checkbook or deposit slips.) After the first two payments, I had a heck of a time getting those checks deposited, because I wasn't her. The check was made to her, but I couldn't deposit it into her account because I had no obvious ownership of the account. It was frustrating.